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05th Oct 2023

Travel: how to make flying with a baby less stressful for you both

As we approach the midterm, many parents may be considering a little well-earned holiday.

However, the idea of travelling with a young child can be terrifying for some parents, but there are ways to make things easier and calmer for both you and baby…

I travelled to Portugal in September with my little girl – it’s was her first time flying. 

Ahead of the flight, I got some great advice from fellow parents about how to handle the prospect of flying with a toddler for the first time. While she is two and a half, I recognise that some of you will be travelling with a baby that is younger, so I’m going to share travelling advice for babies specifically, in the hopes that it makes your life easier and calms your travel fears.

With careful planning and a few essential strategies, you can make the experience enjoyable and stress-free for both you and your little one.

Get the timing right

Choose flight timings that align with your baby’s natural schedule, where possible. Opt for flights during nap times or bedtime to increase the chances of a peaceful journey. A well-rested baby is more likely to be content during the flight.

Be clever with your packing

Obviously, a well-organised nappy bag with essentials such as nappies, wipes, changing pad, extra clothes, bottles, formula or breast milk, soothers, and a favourite blanket or toy. Having these items easily accessible can help manage any surprises during the flight.

Book a good seat (if you can)

When booking your seats, consider reserving a bulkhead seat with extra legroom. These options provide more comfort and space for both you and your baby. 

Board early

Most airlines offer early boarding for families with young children. Take advantage of this opportunity to settle in, organise your space, and get your baby accustomed to the new surroundings before everyone else boards the plane.

Feed during takeoff and landing

Babies often experience ear discomfort due to pressure changes during these phases of the flight. Breast- or bottle-feeding or offering a soother can help ease the pressure on their ears.

Entertain them

Pack a variety of age-appropriate toys and activities to keep your baby engaged. Soft books, rattles, and interactive toys can be great distractions during the flight.

Dress comfortably (you and baby)

Dress your baby in comfortable, layered clothing that is easy to change. Airplanes can be chilly, so carrying a lightweight blanket is a good idea.

Have patience

Babies are sensitive to their parents’ stress levels. Stay calm and patient, even if your baby becomes fussy. Other passengers understand that babies can be unpredictable during flights. 

Go for a walk

Take short walks up and down the aisle to provide a change of scenery and some movement for your baby. This can be particularly helpful during longer flights.

Always, always be prepared to adapt your strategies based on your baby’s cues and needs. With a positive attitude, a well-packed bag, and a smidge of extra patience, you can ensure that your baby’s first aeroplane journey is maybe not good, but definitely less traumatising than you might think.